Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Devised and Directed

In the month prior to our recent hike on the Appalachian Trail, I checked the weather forcast for that area almost daily.  Mainly I was looking to see how cold it would be at night and the predictions for rain.

As the days passed  by, of course, the forecast changed.  About a week before we were set to leave the forecast was for clear - and not too cold - conditions.  But the forecasters probably didn't expect Hurricane Patricia, then churning around in the Pacific, to make landfall in Mexico and send her remnants barreling through the southeastern United States.

The night before our hike was to begin, we again checked the weather.  This was a little harder to do in Hot Springs, NC, because there was no telephone reception and Wi-Fi  was spotty at best.  We could see enough to know, though, that rain was coming and at least part or all of our four day hike would be in the rain.  Having had a wet three days on our last hike, we weren't too keen on being soaked again. 

Our choices were pretty clear. . .don't hike or hike in the rain.  We looked at alternate parts of the trail, to move our hiking location, but at some time all the southeastern portion of the trail would receive rain.  That morning we prayed about what to do and as soon as we lifted our heads, another, different thought came to Glen.

We were pretty sure we would have one pretty day and perhaps part of the next before the rain would arrive.  We decided to hike the trail in the opposite direction, going northward from Hot Springs instead of hiking to Hot Springs.  As soon as we finished our breakfast of scrambled eggs and kale (kale is a pretty big thing up in Hot Springs) we met the gentleman whom we had arranged to shuttle us to our trailhead, and told him we wouldn't be needing his services after all.  Then we donned our packs and began our hike.  The Appalachian Trail near Hot Springs briefly runs along the beautiful French Broad River.  We hiked along, listening to the water joyfully dancing on the rocks, and seeing before us the most beautiful canvas of reds, oranges and yellows painted against a bright blue sky.  It was so amazing we could hardly take it all in.

We hiked until we knew we had reached the half-way point timewise.  Then we retraced our steps.  We made our camp on the banks of the French Broad River and spent a, not-too-cold, not-too-hot night listening to the river rush by.  Once I heard the soft sprinkling of rainfall on our tent, but it was light and short lived.

It was probably the most perfect day of Autumn to be hiking.  The temperature was perfect, the fall colors abundant and the trail, for the most part, unchallenging.  Even though it was much shorter than we had planned, we both agreed it was just about a perfect hike.  I was reassurred even more that we had made the right decision when I checked the weather upon returning from the trail.  Along with the forecast for rain was a high-wind warning.  I don't mind getting a little wet, but I don't want to be camping when all there is between me and high wind is a thin nylon tent.

We had made our hiking plans months ago, planning each step of the trip.  But the Lord had other ideas.  We had to change the date of when we would visit our friends in NC and GA, but both were as accomodating as could be.  We even ended up hiking Sawnee Mountain with our friends in Georgia and that day was as beautiful as the day we had hiking in North Carolina.

While we made our plans, we didn't lean on our own understanding.  With each step of the way, each twist and turn in the road, we acknowledged and trusted our Savior and He did indeed direct our paths.

"When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sincerely in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!"

"A man's heart deviseth his way;  but the Lord directeth his steps."  
Proverbs 16:9

UPDATE:. Typos corrected